August 03, 2008

Golden Gate Bridge shadow

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

You'd be surprised to know how many of us "locals" have never taken a walk on the Golden Gate Bridge, although we're pretty quick to grumble about how many times we've had to plunk down the outrageous $5 toll ($4 with Fast-Pass) for crossing the darned span by car...   Personally, I've only walked on it a half-dozen times in the four decades that I've lived just 15 miles to the north, and I readily admit that I still haven't found a reason to walk the eight-tenths of a mile out to it's very center...

Ah yes -- the center of the bridge -- it's a magnet for those hell-bent on committing suicide.   Since the bridge was completed in 1937 over 1300 poor souls have taken the plunge, and only a handful have survived the 260 foot fall...   Yes folks, I'm told that these days about two people each month mistakenly decide that suicide is the only-way-out...   As long as I can remember, the bridge directors have been considering building a suicide barrier, but about all they've been able to agree on is their regularly scheduled pay raises...

Many of you have probably already walked on the Golden Gate Bridge and know about this, but I am always amazed at how badly the whole structure shakes, rattles, rolls, and bounces up and down whenever a heavy truck passes over.   The rumbling is most apparent while using the pedestrian and bicycle cat-walk under the north side of the bridge.

An average of 120,000 vehicles pass over the bridge daily from San Francisco to Marin County.   Each of the two bridge towers is fastened together with 600,000 rivets, and the two 36 inch main cables are spun from 80,000 miles of individual wires...   An enterprising math genius could keep busy calculating the total length of the groups of four smaller suspender cables.   Scraping down, sandblasting, and repainting all of that metal is a full-time job for a large crew of painters and ironworkers.   The Golden Gate got it's name 89 years before the bridge itself was built, but many people mistakenly think the bridge is painted gold -- it's not -- it's color is what they call international orange.

The bridge is designed to expand and contract with temperature fluctuations, and the engineers built it to withstand six foot sways from side-to-side in heavy winds.   Most important has been the earthquake retrofitting that they've been doing over the past twenty years or so -- the shaky San Andreas earthquake fault runs parallel nearby.   Engineers are confident that the bridge will be able to withstand the next "big-one" -- if it isn't too big...   We've all got our fingers crossed, and some of us even say a little prayer before driving onto the span.   Heaven help us out here in earthquake country...

Here's a few more photos of the bridge:

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

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photowannabe said...

My Father in Law was previleged to go up to the top of the tower with some Big Wigs when he was working on getting Fort Point established as part of the Park system. He said the trip to the top was scary, exhilerating and a once in a life time opportunity. We have a great picture of him at the top.
Love the shadows and all the Bridge pictures.

Bear Naked said...

Those are amazing photos.
After your description of the shakes, rattles and rolls I think I will give it a pass if I am ever there for a visit.
I don't do bridges (or heights)very well.

Bear((( )))

Mary said...

Yeah, I'm with bear naked -- I don't do bridges or heights either. Love the photos, though!

Pat - Arkansas said...

Very interesting information about the bridge; thanks. All these photographs are excellent. I particularly admire the shot of the bridge and the fog. Although I've not visited San Francisco, I've always associated fog with the city and environs.

Louise said...

Terrific pictures, but the last is my favorite. I love it when you put up fog pictures.

Coy Hill said...

Interesting statistics along with great photographs, I particularly like your last shot with the bridge shrouded in fog, Awesome!!!

kjpweb said...

A bit disconcerting, what the suicides is concerned - but the pictures - especially the last do lift the spirit again right away!
Cheers, Klaus

Marvin said...

Thanks for all the info and great shots of the Golden Gate Bridge. The one with the fog is my favorite too.

We you walk across them, I've found that most bridges move, rattle and pop more than you think they ought to. This must really be the case with the Golden Gate.

Tomate Farcie said...

Beautiful shots (especially the last one!) And now, I feel a little bit better knowing I'm not the only one who hasn't taken a full walk across the GGBridge! ;)

Back in 2001, I was living in Marin and commuting to SF with the Golden Gate Transit buses. Immediately after 9/11, troops were posted not on the bridge itself, but safely tucked away on firm ground right before the bridge. Back then, we *all* said our little prayer before crossing, especially the day after (September 12) when practically NOBODY else besids GG Transit dared driving across that bridge to get into SF.

As to people who jump or fall through the cracks somehow and become so desperate that they feel the need to end it all ... let me just say how so, so, so sorry I feel. This is neither the place nor the time to get into this too deeply, but believe me, I really feel for them. However, I don't think attaching a net to the bridge is going to make that big of a difference. If the locals really want to spend that much money (wasn't the Chronicle talking about 50 million dollars to put up a net about 3 weeks ago?) they could invest in suicide prevention programs, or other kind of programs designed to catch these people before they fall into depression so deeply they can't come out. Just my opinion, of course.

Fish Whisperer said...

I love that bridge amd you have done it justice.

Janice said...

Love these shots of the bridge! I have walked it many times (one night in the rain), and biked it even more.

There is something new every time you cross it. More or less fog, different rates of fading in the paint...

Anonymous said...

Just discovered your blog today via your post to mine for SWF. I love all your shots, but ended up posting a comment here, because the bridge photos just stopped me in my tracks. Really wonderful shots, particularly the shadow on the water. I'll visit again!

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